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Ladies 1s Vs. Portsmouth 1s - Saturday 26th March 2022

Long journey takes it’s toll!?

Banbury HC Ladies 1s - 2, Portsmouth Ladies 1s - 4

It was a very long journey to Portsmouth, but the ladies arrived on the back of some good results

and were in confident mood. Low availability meant we introduced two U16 players to the team to ensure that we would have enough numbers to rotate as the weather looked hot and players would surely need a break. A win here would guarantee league safety, so everyone was up for it.

The first 5 minutes of the game saw both teams vying for supremacy and it was end to end. Neither team had a good grip on the game, but it was clear to see that it was the type of match where both teams were capable of the win and it was going to be the team who took their chances, would most likely come out on top.

After 5 mins Portsmouth won a short corner, and they looked very adventurous in their play as they moved the ball across the D, but this was defended well and the score remained the same. A couple of minutes later and Banbury had their first short, which Vic (“Pagey”) Coombs dragged towards goal; this was stopped, but in the resultant melee, Maddie McCarthy fired the ball home, for a deserved 1-0 lead to Banbury.

It was still anyone’s game as it went back and forth, neither team, really gelling particularly well, but both teams looking capable of scoring. On 15 mins, Portsmouth earned another short, and despite Sammy Bates making a lovely save, their player was first to the ball and pushed it in; 1-1. After 23 mins, and a bit of sustained Portsmouth pressure, they earned another short, and this was straightforward, out to the centre of the D and fired home low and fast into the corner; 2-1 Portsmouth.

Our ladies were not put off and still went on the attack, but the weather was hot, and the team

appeared to be struggling a little. However, they kept at it and on 32 mins, we earned our next short; the whistle blew just before we put the ball into the net, unfortunately, but that’s how it goes. This, and a further short for Banbury a couple of minutes later didn’t produce any further scoring and the halftime score remained 2-1 Portsmouth. Everyone had put in a massive shift on the pitch, including our two young recruits, Molly Bentley and Lucy Burnham. As we were low on numbers for this match, players were finding themselves having to play out of their normal positions but were coping well. Could Banbury get back into it?

The 2nd half continued much the same as the first with both teams on occasion having the upper hand. After a period of Portsmouth pressure, they took a speculative shot from FIVE feet outside the D. This went past all the defenders and our goalie quite rightly let it go past her too. To everyone’s amazement (including Portsmouth), a goal was given; 3-1. This did upset the team, but they re-grouped and went looking for a second goal. We had a few chances, with the ball being fired across the D by our marauding forward line, but no one could get a last touch to deflect it in.

With 16 mins to go Libby Haden and “Pagey” combined really well and tested the Portsmouth goalie, but she saved well. 2 mins later, after further Banbury pressure, the energetic Zoe Young, took the ball, beat a couple of players, and rifled the ball home; 3-2. The game was back on.

The last 10 mins of the game had Banbury getting the better of it, but the final touches and passes were just not quite there, and although we looked the more likely team to score, it was in fact Portsmouth who earned themselves a short 4 mins from the end and after some very creative passes across our D, their shot found the back of the Banbury net; 4-2. This was hugely

disappointing for the team just as they were looking to be in the ascendency.

No one can ever say that Banbury doesn’t give 110% on the pitch, and despite being behind in a game that was there to be won, the ladies kept on looking for an opening as the clock ticked down; in the last minute, Tash Roberts forced her way into the D and was 1 on 1 with their goalie, who simply up ended Tash, and took her out. This was sure to be a flick, but no, play was unfortunately waved on. This kind of sums up the day really. Things just didn’t go our way, and the final whistle went with a disappointing loss 4-2.

MVP – with 5 nominations, Lucy Burnham was voted by the team for the award today.

“I think this was a game which was there to be won, but we were a little flat at times and just

didn’t seem to play with the same vim and vigour as in past weeks. I do think that the very long

journey, coupled with the unseasonably hot weather contributed to this. We did have chances, and we could have won, but unfortunately, things simply didn’t go our way. Other results have meant that our league survival looks secure, so that is a positive. This team has shown massive effort, commitment, and some great play throughout the whole season, and to play in this league, and to hold their own with most teams, is a tremendous achievement. We have the league leaders visit us next week. Can we put the cat amongst the pigeons and ruin their party. We shall see…."

Bryce Wilkinson

Ladies 1s Manager 26/03/22

Photo: MVP Lucy Burnham in action

Photo: Charlie King clearing the ball

Photo: Vic Coombs and Zoe Young working the ball up the pitch

Photo: Banbury on the attack with a short corner

Photo: Banbury blocking a Portsmouth attack

Photo: Banbury closing down the opposition

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